WHAT ARE THE CONTEMPORARY TRENDS IN THE VOTING BEHAVIOR OF THE INDIAN ELECTORATE

Studying about the voting pattern and election pattern of the world’s largest democracy is a challenge. India has seen a tremendous change in the voting pattern since the first elections of 1952. Election during that time was solely based on the leader and there was principal focus on only one political party but now the situations have changed. India has grown through the 21st century to see a lot of changes within the political system. Starting from the changes during the time of independence till today.

The voting pattern has seen considerable changes lately. During the time of independence the pattern of voting was solely based on the legacy of the nationalist movement. This was because people only voted for the single largest party at that time and that is the Indian National Congress. INC was people’s first choice since it had the legacy of the Independence struggle as well as it had an all India background which accommodated people from all kinds of religion and caste unlike other political parties which had its ground on only a single community of people.

While Today’s political system is quite complicated. The voting pattern has also become quite complex unlike earlier times. These days people’s voting pattern and behaviour have changed a lot. There are many factors for this change. It is quite a complex study where we have to unravel things from the core. For this we have to take a look from where this change in voting period has started from.

       Till the 1977 elections congress party ruled India. The INC consecutively won the elections till 1977. Only to be defeated by the Janata Party. In 1989 INC was again defeated for the second time due to the unpopular rule of the congress and the lack of representation of the regional parties, lower or backward castes, minorities etc. 1989 put an end to the rule of single party system and welcomed in the multi-party coalition system in India.

Most striking trend in the Indian politics is the political competition between the Indian Political Parties that have grown past these years. This rise in the number of the political parties in India is due to the lack of representation of the various regionalities and communities. There has been a constant competition between various communities in the country for power. People are being voted mainly because they belong to a particular community or religion. This pattern of politics emerged only very recently within the country.      

The behaviour of a voter in India is defined by the various factors

  • Religion
  • Caste
  • Performance of the party in power
  • Money
  • Policy

The political parties make use of these factors to attract more voters. Although no party can convince a person to vote for them in the name of religion and caste, this is an important factor

In the elections. Since India is a secular country the political parties nor the government cannot have a tilt towards a single religion. Even still political parties use religion and caste to catch the polls.

RELIGION is one of the main factors which affect the voting behaviour these days in our country. People are more interested to elect for candidates to more or less belong to their same religion or community since they feel that then only they can identify themselves with the leader. Despite India being a secular country and the fact that no religious affiliations can be used in the election matters we can still see that people use the religious sentiments of the people to make use of their vote. Political campaigning’s are also done for the same. For an example the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the leading political party of India which is said to have the ideology of Hindutva. The party has a tilt towards the Hindu religion. Another example of a political party is the Indian Muslim League which is as the name says a Muslim political party.

The establishment of a secular state along with the freedom of religion – that is to choose to practise, profess and propagate any religion of our choice, treating all religions equally and not putting any religion one above the other , the political parties have failed to keep their word. Even after all these laws the use of religion in politics hasn’t come to and end and it seems like it never will according to the recent political activities and trends. The continued existence of political parties which are one way or the other linked with a religion is the main reason why religion cannot be put away from politics. The very existence of these religious acts as a black hole to the act of secularism in our country. The existence of religious pluralism affects the political system. The selection of a candidate is sometimes solely based on religions preferences. The religionization of socio- political issues by the political parties is one of the methods by which they continue to get the voters in their consideration.

CASTE is yet another important factor in determining the voting behaviour of the people. Caste has always had its root in all kinds of problems in India. Caste is an important determinant in the politics of India. It constitutes an important basis for social relations in the country. Despite the various measure taken stop the discrimination,  caste still continues to an important basis for election. Politics in caste and caste in politics are very common in the Indian political scenario as we all know. Sometimes for the elections to various constituencies people are selected on the basis of their caste. Also while formulating various policies, election strategies and programme caste is taken as a major factor in the backdrop.  Caste system has had its roots for years and so it will take a lot of time for people to weed out these roots even from the political scenario. Votes are brought in the name of caste by the candidates.

Caste is an important determinant for the selection of candidate for the rural population. Despite the various laws and the adoption of secularism, uneducated people mostly living in the rural India choose to vote for people who belong to their own caste. The candidates despite the laws in the country make use of their sentiments to seek vote for them. Although recently this trend has been changing at least in the urban households since as you go up the social ladder caste tends to be invisible. While in the rural areas caste tends to be an important factor in the selection of their leader.

PERFROMANCE OF THE PARTY IN POWER. The performance of the party already ruling is also another important determinant. Each political party comes into power with a election manifesto and various promises. After the elections it is their duty to fulfil all of this and meet the various aspirations of the people. And so the performance of the party during the time it rules is an important factor in determining whether the people should elect for the party next time too.

Improper ruling of the party during its tenure can result in it being not chosen for the next time. The way the party rules influences the people in a big way. We can see an example of this by looking at the example of the elections during 1989. The parties which got elected only stayed in power for a short period of time due to their political instability and the lack of a charismatic leader during the time of ruling. Their unpopular rule with the lack of ideology since it was a coalition lead the people to choose another political party.

MONEY influences people in different ways. Usually people with money and power tend to stay in high positions and rule the people according to their wishes. India is a developing country and most of people live under the poverty line. And so the people having money and power tend to rise to the top. Without other factors like political wave getting involved usually it’s the people with money and power who wins the elections. Rich and the powerful throw around the money to catch the ballot. But this is not always true though because in the 1989 elections congress used a lot of money and power but it couldn’t win the elections. BJP won the elections.

POLICY. Various policies taken by the government or the political parties stand out as an important deciding factor in elections by a common man. When a party announces its political manifesto the policies it takes for the people is an important determinant in voting. A person who doesn’t know much about politics and party tends to take a look at the policies of the party or what it has done in the past years. And so creating a policy that attract the crowd and implementing it in a proper way is important for any party.

These are the various trends which are seen across the country during the election time. The voters turnout has consistently increased from the time of independence till today. People has started to see election as an important way of choosing their leaders. As people are getting educated they started to look into the doings of the party and make a proper decision when it comes to who to vote for. Voting behavior is a form of electoral behavior and understanding it can help us understand how and why people choose to vote for certain people. And the above study was about voting behavior and its determinants.